In mid July, several residents of Falls Village filed a complaint against the Region 1 Board of Education with the Connecticut Department of Education regarding the proposed Joint Agreement for the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. In response, at their regular meeting this week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee signed the joint agreement. Lara Mittaud, Chairman of the Falls Village Board of Education, also signed saying that they did not want to be without a Superintendent. The Commissioner of Education should respond to the complaint by the end of the month.
Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain
At a joint meeting of the All Boards Chairs (ABC) and the Region 1 Board of Education, they discussed the evaluation and contract of Superintendent of Schools Patricia Chamberlain. The executive session lasted over one hour, in addition to significant time spent at previous meetings. Coming out of executive session, both groups voted to extend the contract of the Superintendent until June 30, 2017. They also voted to accept her retirement at that time and included several additions to her retirement package similar to the additions given to teachers in their contract.
At the beginning of July, the Region 1 Board of Education met to wrap up the ends of the school year and prepare for next year. They greeted the new Assistant Superintendent, Pam Vogel, on her first day. They approved the fall coaches at the High School, the extra duties for some teachers, and hired three new teachers to replace retiring ones. They unanimously approved the modified joint employment agreement for the Superintendent of Schools. They ratified the contract for the non-certified union which calls for a 3% yearly increase with many modifications to health care. As part of the approved minutes of the Personnel committee, they agreed not to refill a guidance position. And they discussed a policy change to allow children of certified staff in the Region to attend the High School tuition free.
Sharon Chairman Electra Tortorella (l) and North Canaan Chairman Dolores Perotti reviewing the legal papers
Sometimes enough is not enough. When the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met this week, they could have been signing a joint employment agreement on the Superintendent
of Schools. After all, they had worked nearly two years to reach this point. Six of the seven Boards of Education had voted to sign it. Instead, they went over a redlined set of small, inconsequential changes brought about by a meeting of their attorney, Gary Brochu, with attorney for the Town of Falls Village (Canaan), Frederick Dorsey. The two attorneys had identified only three issues of difference between them. The committee resolved not to change the language on any of them. Some of the Boards will vote on the inconsequential changes again, some not. The Falls Village Board of Education refused to sign the resulting agreement.
Housatonic Valley Regional High School is a wonderful small high school in the northwest corner of Connecticut. It boasts a broad choice of curriculum and extensive after-class activities. It is supported by excellent elementary schools in the six towns of Region 1. And the Region 1 Board of Education tends to focus on the excellent students in the school who go to top universities. They tend to focus on the success of small groups like the Envirothon and Robotics teams. Even in their meetings, they focus on the success of the sports teams. The overall performance in the academic core of English, math and science goes largely unnoticed.
Foreign Language teacher Linda Miller
The retiring foreign language teacher at Kent Center School, Linda Miller, is returning to teach next year. She was one of three teachers hired at the regular meeting of the Kent Board of Education. The Board also heard a presentation from an energy company to replace inefficient light bulbs in the school; they approved the project with no net cost to the budget. Chairman Paul Cortese said that the roof project for the summer months was proceeding to the bid stage. Board member Allan Priaulx reported that the wellness committee was asking Principal Florence Budge to provide at least 20 minutes of recess throughout all grades. And the Board finally approved a policy on public comment.
On Monday, the Region 1 Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting with many business actions. They approved the hiring of four professionals to fill jobs opened by retirement. They approved a request by Principal Jose Martinez for a nominal fee for the student computers. They approved the replacement of lighting fixtures at the high school by Eversource. They approved a new Algebra textbook. They approved three more students from Massachusetts for the Ag-Ed program. Chairman Andrea Downs appointed three members for a Personnel Committee as part of their long term planning process. And, they alluded to but refused to discuss a detailed threat of legal action from the Town of Canaan (Falls Village) over the joint employment agreement of the Superintendent of Schools.
This week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met for its regular meeting. Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain reported on her research into regionalization in other school districts. Chairman Electra Tortorella reported that the joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent will be delayed once again while the two attorneys resolve differences. Then the committee went into executive session to evaluate the Superintendent and discuss the next contract.
Chamberlain gave the committee several documents on regionalization in three school districts:
- Region 12 made up of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington
Region 4 made up of Chester, Deep River and Essex
- Strategic Planning
Norfolk and Colebrook Regional Plans exclusive of Region 7
- Regionalization Presentation
- Regionalization Plan
- Norfolk Colebrook Regionalization Plan
This week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee held a special meeting to discuss shared services. They considered their two choices: a shared services agreement between all seven Boards of Education or rewriting the policies of each Board. They immediately went off on a tangent to discuss the governance as specified by one of the enabling acts of Region 1. They then reached a tenuous consensus to have Region attorney Gary Brochu review changes to the policies (7000 series) while recommending whether they should have an agreement or policies. The bulk of the discussion centered on power; Region 1 Chairman Andrea Downs wanted to keep control of the central office budget and its employees other than the Superintendent of Schools.